Customize Your Child:: Additional Reads

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Genetic engineering vs. genetic selection.
Genetic selection is already used today, especially with parents who are known carriers of fatal hereditary diseases/conditions. Parents with a hereditary condition may screen their embryo to see if their potential child is affected by the condition. If the child is affected, they have the choice to terminate the embryo and start again. The same goes for selecting gender, embryos can be screened to determine the gender of the child. If the embryo is not the desired gender, it can be discarded/donated. If the embryo is acceptable (disease free and/or the correct gender), the embryo is then implanted.

Genetic engineering of human children is further off. We have genetically engineered plants and animals, however. Probably the best known example would be Monsanto corn and the whole GMO issue. Genetic engineering requires the modification/manipulation of the DNA of the embryo. If I remember correctly they have strawberries with the genetic material of fish to prevent the berries from freezing(1). They also have plants that are genetically modified to be immune to herbicides(2)… And there are glow in the dark cats from South Korea(3), the same country where you can also get your pets cloned for a price(4).I’m interested in both genetic selection and genetic engineering. The fiction I am thinking of pursuing will probably involve both.

Talk with Aisling:

  • Look at the social reaction to genetically engineered children, what do people think?
  • Special Olympics for genetically engineered children
  • Engineered children vs. natural children
  • What does low IQ mean then?
  • What if a genetically engineered child grows up and has children of their own, but the natural way, because they believe it is wrong to be genetically engineered?
  • Do people then feel that genetically engineering children is the “right” thing to do. If you cared, you would make sure your child had the best genes possible?

Should we Prohibit Genetically Engineered Babies?
A short article on a debate over genetically engineered children. Should genetically engineered babies be prohibited? Or do the benefits of “smarter, healthier children” outweigh the risks and unnatural nature of the procedure?

Is China Engineering Genius Babies? Not Exactly
Explains the truth and myth behind the Vice article China is Engineering Genius Babies.
Talks about genetic engineering vs. genetic screening/selection. Mentions how we can now screen embryos for diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis and Sickle Cell Anemia. We can also screen embryos to select the gender of children. Screening for disease and gender is currently happening today.
In the case of IQ, they are not suggesting genetic engineering, but rather are playing an informed game of dice. Say 10 embryos are available, they check the alleles associated with high IQ for each embryo, and then only implant the one that is perceived to have the best alleles for higher IQ scores. Even this, however, is not within near reach according to experts. It is suggested that there may be 1000s of genes that contribute to intelligence.

(1) http://www.theorganicview.com/other-shows/featured-guests-on-the-organic-view-radio-show/trends/the-price-of-convenience-fishberry-fields-forever/
(2) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=genetically-modified-crops-survive-weed-whacking-herbicide
(3) http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/glow-in-the-dark-cats-could-help-find-cure-for-aids
(4) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/south-korea-clones-american-dog-for-50k-after-his-death/2012/01/17/gIQAXi585P_blog.html
(image1) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1390088.stm

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About yvonnehidle

Yvonne Hidle is a first year MTiD (Master of Tangible Interaction Design) student at Carnegie Mellon University. She has a background in architecture and is interested in the way people interact with the built environment, not only visually, but tactically, acoustically, and emotionally as well. She enjoys creating architectural environments that stimulate the user’s imagination and evoke a broad set of emotions. Yvonne has some Processing and Arduino experience, as well as familiarity with scripting languages such as PHP, CSS, and HTML.

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